Thursday, May 1, 2014

THE MAGIC of MAY DAY


May Day is a sweet old-fashioned celebration of Spring that is mostly overlooked in our culture, but according to lore, it was a festival that celebrated not only the arrival of Spring, but paid homage to Flora, goddess of flowers.

It is one of the corner days which fall between solar festivals of the year (the equinoxes and soltices). The ancient Celts called this holiday Beltane and began celebrating at sunset on April 30th.
Like Halloween, this is a night some claim, that witches, faeries, and ghosts wander freely. The veil between the worlds is thin. Many ancient tales tell of faerie sightings on May 1st.

When my children were young, we celebrated May Day by making fresh flower bouquets from the blooming wild flowers and herbs in my garden and whatever we could scrounge up in the woods. Often our lilac bushes were in bloom and we added sprigs of the heady purple posies. We made a bouquet for each of our nearby relatives and our favorite neighbors....often 20 bundles or more we tied up in a riot of ribbons. 

Then, following May Day ritual lore, we would deliver the flowers to the doorsteps of our family and friends, ring their bell, and run away giggling-thrilled with our secret gift.

The kids are all grown and gone from home now...and I haven't celebrated May Day this way in many years. But, those sweet, magical memories fill me up and make me smile every May1st.

Friday, April 11, 2014

YES, MY CAR HAS A NAME


I have always named my cars.

I bought my first car in 1970, the summer before I started college. It was a very used, very loved, Volkswagon Beetle. Aquarius Blue. So fitting, I thought, for this Age of Aquarius flower child. I had seen an ad in the newspaper and grabbed my younger brother, James, to go with me to look at the old bug. It was a manual transmission and I didn't know how to drive one. But, not knowing how to drive a stick shift was a minor inconvenience as far as I was concerned. I bought 'Lil Al' on the spot for $300-the sum total of my savings. Jim drove him home and then spent 30 minutes teaching me the mechanics of a stick.  I lovingly christened 'Albert' at first sight-after a favorite uncle who was short and bald.

I drove Albert around campus and back and forth from Madison to Estes Park, Colorado (where I worked summers) numerous times during the following four years I spent at the UW. He had no heat, a big hole under his accelerator pedal where I could watch the road go by, and bumpers that I had to wire together. But, he started every morning, and ran forever on gas fumes. That car oozed personality. I loved him until the day he literally fell apart.

I bought my second car right after graduation on the day I started my first teaching job. A brand new, 1974,  Rally Green Beetle.  I named her 'Buns' after a nickname I acquired in college.  I had Buns for the next ten years...until she became too cramped for hauling my three young daughters and all their paraphernalia. And, even then I did not want to sell her, but we needed a more family friendly car.

Over the following fifteen years I drove a mini van and a couple different jeeps. Cars that served their purpose with our gang of six, but they had little personality. I can't remember naming any of them.

Then, the year Austin (the last of our four kids) turned sixteen, got his drivers license, and no longer needed me to be his driver, Volkswagen started manufacturing the Beetle again.  Feeling a new-found freedom and a nostalgia for my younger days, I bought a shiny new cobalt blue Bug.  I named her 'Millie'  She was a fun little car and I drove her for four years....until Volkswagen came out with a brand new Beetle convertible model! So, I gave Millie to Kristin as a graduation gift and bought a metallic Moonrock Silver Beetle Convertible. She was christened 'Queene Bee'.

It has been twelve years-twelve good years-and Bee has held up well.  But, as she gets more and more miles on her, I have begun to think about getting another car.  Of course, I am looking at the newest sporty Beetles.  And, yes. I already have a name picked out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

THE LONG WAY HOME

As I age, I want to simplify my life. My needs are small, and getting smaller all the time. Good health, family, friends. A roof over my head. Food on my table. The essentials taken care of. These are my desires. I no longer pine for lots of extra 'stuff'.

To everything, there really is a season. (well, except this winter, which just DOES NOT want to let go)! When I was young, the dream of having a big house with all the trimmings was very appealing.  But, these days I long for a tiny cottage, condo or beach house...just big enough for two.

Travel is fun, and I do enjoy a journey now and then. But, I seem to be most comfortable curled up in my comfy chair by the fire, living most my wild adventures vicariously through a good book!

It has taken me many years to realize that I have been searching for happiness in the wrong places-always looking on the outside instead of the inside.  I finally see that everything I've always wanted has been right here all along.


Like so many others, I took the long way home.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

"Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise".
-Horace

Happy New Year!

We are starting the new year with frigid cold temps, a foot of fresh snowfall, a fire in the hearth, books to read piled high, and so many dreams.  Looking at 2014 is like looking at the pristine field of snow outside my window...perfect and unblemished and filled with potential. Tomorrow I start across it.

I am always so full of excitement on January 1st. I never know what a new year will bring, what blessings, triumphs, or losses. But, I do know how very fortunate I am, and I know that each blessing or loss brings growth to my life.

Let the adventures begin!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR


December 25, 2013

‘Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but, the fire is so delightful,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…”

It is a blustery cold day in Wisconsin, but I am cozy and warm tucked in next to a roaring fire, sipping spiced cider while the heady scents of balsam and the soothing sounds of ‘A Celtic Christmas’ fill the house. What’s not to like about winter?!

Life has given The Gannon Family many joyous moments this year, and I am grateful.  In early fall, both Brittany and Chad found new jobs in Madison. Chad is putting his artistic skills to use at Fast Signs, and Brittany took a Marketing job downtown. And, although they originally moved into their McFarland condo as a temporary situation, and often talk of moving to Madison, I will enjoy having them close as long as possible.

Kristin began her eleventh year of teaching Art this year when she returned to Beaver Dam Middle School. She truly ‘gets’ those 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (and I’ll bet the feeling is mutual!) Michael is the Bar Manager at one of our favorite restaurants, ‘1855’ in Cottage Grove. The real fireworks in Kristin and Michael’s year of course, happened over the July 4th weekend. Romanced by beautiful Presque Isle Lake in northern Wisconsin, Michael proposed! They plan to have their wedding ceremony on the lake this coming summer.

Our Chi Town contingent also had a momentous year. In September Molly and Lukas bought their first home and moved from bustling downtown Chicago to the quiet suburbs of La Grange Park. Although it has been quite a change, they are already adapting to suburbia! Molly continues to work as an Account Manager at Plan B Advertising, and Lukas is a Program Manager at HIMSS.

Austin has had another lucrative year selling Real Estate for The Gannon Company. Multi-family housing continues to be popular here in McFarland, and condo/duplex construction, sales, and rentals have kept both Austin and Tom quite busy. Austin also bought some land and is looking forward to building his own home next spring.

After many years of creating and selling my artwork, I decided I needed a change and closed my little business, Rhinestone Gypsy. I am not sure what I will do next, but I know it will include fun and whimsy!

Tom and I took a short trip to Charleston, South Carolina in February. We loved the quaint cobblestone streets, the gorgeous old architecture, the many art galleries and museums, and of course, the decadent culinary delights of the south!

In September we enjoyed a little getaway to sunny San Diego for our niece, Kendall’s wedding. She and Chris were married in a charming outdoor setting nestled in the mountains of lovely Rancho Santa Fe. Tom’s seven sisters and spouses were all able to make the trip to California as well, so besides wedding fun; we enjoyed a special Gannon Sibling Reunion.

In early October Tom went on a ten-day moose/bear hunt in the rugged, remote backwoods of British Columbia. He didn’t bring any moose or bear home, but he did bring back some breathtaking photos! What a gorgeous area of the country.

And so, as the year circles around again and we approach this season of giving, my heartfelt wish for you is, as always, for a new year abundant with rich and rare moments spent with those you love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!








Thursday, October 31, 2013

A TRUE AND TERRIFYING HALLOWEEN TALE


Our family loves to play pranks on one another, and not just at Halloween. It is kind of a prerequisite to joining the Gannon Clan. Get a few of the men together and you better be prepared for some unexpected hocus pocus.

This 'trick', however, did take place on Halloween...a dank, dark night more then 20 years ago. There were a bunch of us up at the Gannon Family cottage in northern Wisconsin to celebrate the holiday weekend.  On Halloween night we had taken all the kids to a costume party put on by the local Grade School.

We returned to the cabin after dark and had just settled in, the kids sorting through their stash of candy, when suddenly the lights went out! All the kids (and most of the adults, too) screamed and groped for one another in the pitch black room while someone scurried to light candles.

After the candles were lit and we were milling about,  suddenly one of the kids let out a blood curdling scream! There at the dark picture window, his nose pressed to the glass, appeared an illuminated, grisly,  monstrously ugly face! After several terrifying minutes, (he made sure all the kids were crying) Ray flipped a switch from the basement and the lights came back on. 'Lumerjack Pete' (we later named him. He was, after all, a north woods ghoul) had disappeared.

It took the kids a long time to settle down....and even after we made Tom-repulsive mask, flashlight, and ladder in hand-come clean, not many of the kids slept a wink that night.

It was quite a memorable frightful 'trick' by the Master Pranksters. A trick that was not appreciated by all. But, a trick we still talk about almost every Halloween.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

LOVE IS IN THE NORTHWOODS AIR


Our daughter, Kristin, and her boyfriend, Michael are engaged. On the last day of the long July 4th weekend at the cabin, as they were sitting on the pier saying their final good-byes, Michael got down on one knee and proposed!

With the shimmering blue waters of Presque Isle Lake at their feet, the heady scent of pine in the air and Michael whispering words of love, the seductive setting could have come straight from a romance novel (:

Kristin has always been our free-spirited, wild child....living life in her own quirky way (which is what we love about her)  so we are excited to see what unique and creative ceremony she and Michael will plan.

Congratulations, Kristin and Michael. xo